According to Dr Sujeet Jha, Principal Director – Endocrinology, Diabetes & Obesity, Max Hospital, New Delhi, “Around 10-13 per cent of people in the country suffer from diabetes. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we all have not been going out and staying at home. All this has reduced the level of physical activity, which has impacted our health and blood sugar levels hugely. Any kind of acute infection in the body can lead to a rise in blood sugar levels. The not so good diet, high fever and other factors during the COVID infection lead to a rise in blood sugar levels. On top of it, it’s fueled by the use of steroids, which is unavoidable in some patients.”
Who should get a diabetes test done?
Anyone who has tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus must get done their diabetes test done. It’s a simple test that’s often ignored and plays a major role in deciding the right treatment and thus must be done. Even if the doctor misses it, it should be considered a mandatory test. Even if a 5-year-old kid tests positive, he must be tested for blood sugar levels, added Dr Jha.
The blanket use of steroids is inappropriate in both diabetic and non-diabetic people. Steroids should only be used on being prescribed by the doctors.
Signs that one’s blood sugar levels are increasing
Combined with COVID symptoms, it’s very difficult to differentiate high blood sugar symptoms. Thus, it’s best to get one’s blood sugar test done along with an HbA1c to get an idea of the average blood sugar level.
Dr S K Wangnoo, Senior Consultant, Endocrinology, Apollo Hospital, New Delhi said, “It’s mandatory for everyone whether they are diabetic or not to get their blood sugar levels checked. COVID can affect the pancreatic beta cells, which produce insulin. The ACE-2 receptors damage the beta cells that produce insulin. This leads to insulin deficiency and thus a rise in the blood sugar level.”
Blood sugar levels should be meticulously monitored during the COVID infection and should be treated with only insulin.
People with high blood sugar levels get even severe with the use of steroids.
Prediabetic COVID patient
The prediabetic condition can get converted into full-fledged diabetes, if not treated on time. These people should be treated with insulin to control the condition.
Diabetic COVID patient
Patients with uncontrolled diabetes can get diabetic ketosis – uncontrolled diabetes where ketones in the blood lead to chest discomfort. This is called acidosis, a medical emergency that has to be treated with intravenous insulin infusion treatment along with other support measures.
A person with controlled diabetes can also have a high blood sugar level post COVID. These people might need insulin temporarily and their old medicine might not work.